There is something about me that some people know and most of my really close friends know about me.
I get asked a lot about my photography name "Sleeping Awake Photography". I named it after being a victim of a sleeping disorder called "Sleep Paralysis". Sleep paralysis is a phenomenon in which people, either when falling asleep or wakening, temporarily experience an inability to move. It is a transition state between wakefulness and rest characterized by complete muscle atonia (muscle weakness). It can occur at sleep onset or upon awakening, and it is often associated with terrifying visions, such as an intruder in the room, to which one is unable to react due to paralysis. It is believed a result of disrupted REM sleep, which is normally characterized by complete muscle atonia that prevents individuals from acting out their dreams. (taken from wiki. This describes it the best)
I've been a victim of it since childhood. It's really funny because my mother will tell me stories when I was a kid and telling her I could see ghosts or in other terms like dead people (I'm such a creep). I never mentioned anything to her about it because I was scared. My first experience that I can fully remember was when I was 13. We were visiting our family in Kentucky because my cousin was going in for surgery to get his ribs worked on (they were caved in and causing lung issues)... well me and my dad stayed behind and slept at my aunt's house. I remember laying next to my father and waking up but unable to move... I was staring at the wall and all I could hear was breathing... to find out my dad actually wasn't next to me freaked me out more. I never said anything until my sr year in high school... it was happening every single night. Not just every now and then but literally every night.
I finally admitted to my parents why I slept in their bed with them until I was 14... every time I slept in my room I'd have sleep paralysis. There have been few times where I could get up but my body was so heavy (not fully un-paralyzed) that I'd actually stumble into everything and sometimes even pass out on the floor. I'd wake up with bruises and cuts but never said anything to anyone about it. I'd just play it off like I was clumsy. There were times where I would hyperventilate during an episode and black out for lack of oxygen.
I think the one thing that stuck with me the most was the little girl I would see when I would be in that state of sleeping awakeness... her name is Elizabeth. One of my friends from school swears up and down that she talked to Elizabeth one day on the phone while I was on the phone with her. It makes me laugh but kind of freaks me out as well because it's not just a girl from my sleep paralysis... she was actually an imaginary friend I'd play with as a child as well. She was one of those nice yet mean spirits... I've had strange things happen in my room, even while awake, but at night when I sleep I have terrible dreams. In fact, I don't even believe I dream anymore. I have nightmares or I guess "visions" that tell my deepest feelings. I've had my dreams make me realize a lot about myself... when I can remember a dream I always write it down and use it as inspiration for my images. I also research my dreams... try to understand them. If I'm eating toothpicks and pulling them out of my stomach in my dreams, I'd like to know why.
Very few people know this about me. I tell people why my photo name is what it is... but I haven't told them the deeper details like I am now... I guess a part of me wants everyone to understand my work completely. I had a photographer a couple months ago tell me that I was a liar and stealing images... that I didn't get inspiration from my dreams. Little does she know... I have medical records showing my condition. After I told my mother about what was going on she immediately set me up an appointment with a neurologist. I was tested for 3 nights. I was video taped, monitored 24/7 and even had an iv in my hand which eventually itched like crazy... Here is an image of it. You can see the wires and everything hooked up along with the iv in my hand. On a side note... that adhesive crap they used pulled out a lot of my hair and stayed on my scalp for a week...
After it was over with I got my results and they told me I experienced it even though I didn't remember it that time. They also linked insomnia, night terrors, and seizures to me as well. Since my mother is an epileptic she freaked out and blamed herself for the genes she gave me. It made me laugh actually.. I told her I loved my sleep paralysis. It's scary... but if you let it ride and take control... I've experienced the best things of my life during those few minutes of sleeping awakeness... I was able to, what seemed like, leave my own body and watch myself from above. I saw myself sleeping or staring back at myself. I was able to control my dreams as well.
I sounds super crazy but unless you've been there, you won't understand and I know it's a hard thing to understand if you've never experienced this. It has effected me my whole life. I don't sleep at normal times like other people, I tend to take long naps during the day, even with a good nights rest I will wake up super tired and drowsy all day. I've actually had a lot of complications at my jobs when they would schedule me early in the mornings. When I was on medication for this (which I refused to take it and almost lost my license because of it but when I got the change I RAN from that doctor) I've been fired before from a job because of it. They tested a bunch of different ones out on me and they all had terrible effects. One made me sleep all day.. I wouldn't wake up, I didn't eat, nothing... I lost 10 pounds in one week because of it.. then they put me on other one that made me a zombie. It made me crazy and that's when I lost my job. I never told my boss about my condition so it's not really their fault.. even though they called me stupid basically... (I got sick from the meds and called out work but no one answered so they fired me because they said I was a no call no show)
EDIT:::: I wrote this blog in April 15, 2014. I've had this image idea for a really long time now and FINALLY was able to complete it! <3 It was really fun to do this image. I was hanging upside down for a while and just in general the whole set up was fun and a learning experience. I may revisit this image and recreate it later down the road.